Cloud storage is a file-sharing service that gives you the ability to share files in real time through the cloud, which is a huge advantage for anyone operating a business. Many firms use Google Drive for their cloud storage system, but there are several other similar ones. Google Drive and other cloud storage systems are popular because they give you and your clients instant access to ongoing projects. Even though you may be on opposite sides of the world, you are always able to share files through the cloud and have them ready to review when your client is ready. All files are also saved in the Cloud and are protected by encryption. Only people who are allowed access can view each file, meaning you can protect documents that are vital to your clients and the success of your businesses and firms. While cloud storage is popular and convenient, it is important to consider whether Google Drive is compliant with regulatory guidelines set forth by organizations like FINRA, especially if you handle financial records.
What Is FINRA?
- FINRA is an acronym for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. It was founded in 2007 as a result of a merge between the NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) and the department that handles regulations on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). It was originally developed to protect individuals and firms who were either considering an investment in securities or who were already involved in the investment arena.
- FINRA is responsible for making sure all brokers that are considering entering the securities market have all the proper licenses. Over time though, their duties have expanded to include protecting the rights of individuals to have their personal information and data remain private. This has become a huge area of interest for businesses who are converting to paperless files.
- FINRA is responsible for creating and enforcing guidelines that govern how private data is transmitted and stored. Compliance with FINRA guidelines is vital to your company’s survival and success. There are stiff penalties, fines, and even suspensions for non-compliance, and it is essential to find a way to ease and enhance compliance. Document management software is often the best solution that will help your company or firm stay compliant and protect your profits.
How to be FINRA Compliant
For those using a system like Google Drive to maintain files in the Cloud, they are responsible for complying with all security guidelines and rules outlined by FINRA that ensure the safety of the personal information or private data in the files you’re storing.
These FINRA guidelines outline how client information is stored. Files need to be encrypted to ensure information cannot be hacked or intercepted by anyone outside the firms. There also needs to be another layer of encryption to protect the information from employees of the business.
Although encryption is an excellent way of protecting files that contain private information and personal data, the keys to the encryption cannot be kept in the cloud as well. The control of the information in these files must stay with the originator and kept out of the Cloud to make sure everything is kept private and compliant with FINRA.
While it is possible to maintain compliance with organizations like the FINRA and the SEC using a cloud file system like Google Drive, trying to maintain compliance becomes tedious because these systems weren’t created with compliance in mind.
Businesses must determine if their files fall under regulation by SEC and FINRA policies, and then must take steps on their own to modify their Google Drive account because the system isn’t automatically compliant. It is possible for firms or businesses to start storing data on Google Drive in a way that is not in compliance with regulatory standards, and Google won’t catch it for you. Individuals and businesses must configure Google’s file-viewing and file-sharing features to make it confidential, so that only authorized individuals will have access to certain documents.
Trying to be compliant with FINRA can become a full time job in itself: The FINRA rule book is hundreds of pages long with dozens of sections and sub-sections. Instead of trying to sift through those rules and make your system conform to them, you may want to consider a software option that was created from the ground up to be automatically compliant with FINRA regulations.
Compliance Made Easier with eFileCabinet
eFileCabinet is powerful software that can make compliance with FINRA much easier, and can help businesses increase their efficiency and security by going paperless. eFileCabinet’s software allows you to be confident that you are in compliance with all FINRA regulations, even when regulations change, because your software will automatically update as needed.
Reliable Customer Service Teams
In addition, eFileCabinet has an exceptional customer service department and will help you with every step along your way to going to a paperless, compliant file storage solution. We can help you develop a program that has guidelines for how long data containing personal information should be kept and stored, and when it should be securely disposed of. Then we can help you simplify and integrate this process easily, with automated document retention.
Your customer service representative will also be there to assist you in the event of an audit by FINRA. Because of the organized and thorough audit trails that are created as you use eFileCabinet, your audit can be a breeze. These audit trails detail what happens to private information every step of the way and who made changes when, from the time it is first received and transmitted to the cloud. There are markers every time a document is viewed or edited, so you are always aware of who has access to the information. The data from each document is automatically stored for the amount of time outlined in the FINRA guidelines, and then the document is securely disposed of so that the data is no longer available.
All of this information about the lifecycle of each document is easily accessed by authorized users and can be transmitted to FINRA officials upon request. There are even additional security measures added so that only people in certain roles of the company have the right to view certain information. If the company insists on in-house storage of private information, eFileCabinet also has software that resides on your hard drive or private server. You still get all of the great advantages of organizing and securing your private information but don’t have the advantage of sharing unless you go paperless.
So if you’re still using a regular cloud storage system, you may want to consider transitioning to a system that will take care of the messy regulations for you, letting you keep your clients’ data and your internal information secure and private without the hassle.
Discover Rubex today to ensure that your data always remains in compliance.